Chamber Continues Fight Against Property Tax Scheme Pushed By Local Governments

September 13, 2016

Do you pay property taxes? Hopefully that question got your attention and piques your interest! The Michigan Chamber is strongly opposed to legislation being pushed by local government tax collectors to rig the assessment and appeals system against taxpayers and in favor of local governments.

House Bill 5578 is being pushed by local governments to paper over the fact that their efforts to over-tax large retailers have been routinely rejected by Michigan courts. Why should you care? Because this sweeping bill would impact every type of taxpayer and has ramifications for all industries. House Bill 5578 would tie the hands of the Michigan Tax Tribunal when hearing evidence regarding property valuation disputes by statutorily eliminating all sorts of potentially credible evidence and data.   

Michigan’s predominant approach to valuing property, and as upheld in courts, is to look at the usual selling price (what the market will bear.) Local governments however want to upend our property tax system in a way that forces the most beneficial outcomes to their coffers, even if they don’t reflect the real value of the property in question. Said another way, if they have their way, it will be very costly to taxpayers!

Furthermore, local officials have taken common concepts and maligned and disparaged them in hopes that the general public buys in. As an example, they have coined this issue ominously as a “dark store loophole” simply because the valuation of the property in question is judged against other properties that are/were vacant. But just as if you moved your operation into a different building, you would generally assume that the valuation of your new property was done as if it is vacant and available! Same goes for your home. There is nothing “new” or nefarious about the vacancy concept; it is used every day. 

To take it a step further, local officials have gone as far as consistently telling the media that they look at “annual revenues” when evaluating these properties! *(View video clip here.) But that has nothing to do with property tax valuation. These comments are smoking out what the real motivation is behind these over-assessments and this legislation, which is to extract as much tax as possible from job providers, whether it is accurate or not.

The Michigan Chamber is leading the fight to oppose this extreme measure. We are actively working through the legislative process and to educate the media and the public. But we need your help! The Michigan House fell for the local misleading effort, but the Michigan Senate has not. We urge you to contact your State Senator and tell them to reject this scheme and move on to more productive issues.

For more information, please contact Tricia Kinley at tkinley@michamber.com or (517) 371-7669.

*The video clip in this report was taken from a video produced by Dwight Brady and students at Northern Michigan University.